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Chinese state-owned fund buys 8pc stake in Pingtan subsidiary

Pingtan's fishing fleet. (Photo Credit: Pingtan Marine)

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Thursday, February 12, 2015, 00:20 (GMT + 9)
China-based global fishing company Pingtan Marine Enterprise Ltd. announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary Fujian Provincial Pingtan County Ocean Fishing Group Co., Ltd (Pingtan Fishing) has entered into an investment agreement with China Agriculture Industry Development Fund Co., Ltd.

Under the agreement, China Agriculture will invest RMB 400 million (approximately USD 64 million at current exchange rates) into Pingtan Fishing for an 8 per cent equity interest in Pingtan Fishing's operating company.

The investment values Pingtan Fishing at approximately RMB 5 billion, or USD 800 million at current exchange rates. The closing and funding of this strategic investment is expected to occur no later than 13 February 2015.

Upon the closing and funding of this strategic investment, Pingtan will own 92 per cent of its lone subsidiary, Pingtan Fishing.

Pingtan Fishing is the only entity that has an operating business under Pingtan. China Agriculture is entitled to appoint one representative to the company's Board of Directors upon closing of this investment. Pingtan Marine intends to use the proceeds from this strategic investment for the acquisition of additional vessels and to build a fish processing plant in order to carry out its strategy to expand downstream by selling fish products directly to end markets.

China Agriculture is a RMB 4 billion-fund established by China's Ministry of Finance, Agricultural Development Bank of China, Cinda Asset Management Corporation and CITIC Group in 2012. It is the first China state-owned fund to focus on investing in all areas of the agriculture industry and it is managed by Cinda Asset Management Corporation.

Xinrong Zhuo, Chairman and CEO of Pingtan Marine Enterprises, commented, "Over the past few months, we have worked diligently to seek out financing that both provided our Company with the necessary capital to achieve our objectives, while also aligning ourselves with a strong long-term strategic partner. We are pleased to welcome China Agriculture as our shareholder, as it truly reflects Pingtan's strength and value within the industry. The fund hired Ernst & Young and conducted considerable due diligence prior to signing this Agreement. As an RMB fund, they invested directly in our operating subsidiary. We feel that this strategic investment was made at an attractive valuation for our fishing business, while also providing our Company with the funding to expand our operations and strengthen our capital structure."

In conjunction with the execution of this strategic Investment Agreement and effective on 9 February 2015, Pingtan terminated its existing variable interest entity agreements, or VIEs, as permitted by the laws of the People's Republic of China. This provides the shareholders of Pingtan Marine Enterprises with direct ownership of its subsidiaries rather than contractual ownership through the VIE structure.

The previous VIE agreements were entered into by Pingtan on 24 October 2012, and included an Exclusive Call Option Agreement by the principle shareholders, an Equity Interest Pledge Agreement, Power of Attorney and Contracted Management Agreement.

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